When People revealed the “big” star coming out of the closet on May 7 would be country star Chely Wright, I was, like, who?! If we’re not talking the Dixie Chicks, Shania Twain, or Taylor Swift, I don’t know crap about country. But apparently, Wright, 39, is huge in the country music scene and it’s a big deal that she’s the first major country artist to out herself as a lesbian.
So maybe I’ve never heard of Chely Wright before in my life — but now, as she faces the world, truly herself, as a gay person, I’ve got tons of respect for her. After the jump, some facts we learned about her …
- Originally from Kansas, Chely Wright became a songwriter in 1993 and has released seven albums in the past 17 years. Big songs include “Shut Up and Drive” and “Single White Female.” In 1999, the Academy of Country Music named her the Top New Female Vocalist, when “Single White Female” was the #1 country song.
- She’s dated men in the past, including country star Brad Paisley.
- Sadly, Wright did not tell anyone she was a lesbian because she thought the country music community wouldn’t accept her. “I hid everything for my music,” Wright told People.com. “Nothing in my life has been more magical than the moment I decided to come out.”
- Wright ain’t no financial fool: She’s cashing in on her coming out big time. This week, she also releases her memoir, Like Me: Confessions Of A Heartland Country Singer, and her first album in five years, “Lifted Off The Ground.”
- Wright is the sister of a U.S. Marine and she’s always giving big ups to the troops. In 2004, she released a single, called “Bumper of My SUV,” with lyrics that tell the story of a woman in a minivan giving her the finger after seeing a “U.S. Marines” sticker on her car. That year she also played a 10-day tour on military bases in Iraq and Kuwait, and met with injured veterans at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, in Washington, D.C. She’s also played for the troops in Kosovo.